Work Experience in the TV/creative industry is your first foot in the door – but it’s not as glamourous as most people think.

 

“Working in film and TV is one of the best jobs in the world. You get access to areas usually reserved for Royalty. You get to mingle with famous people, travel the world and create things that could well mould popular culture.”

 

This common misconception is causing an influx of driven, talented young people desperate for a foot in the door. Work Experience can be a way in, but it’s not as glamourous as most people think and it certainly isn’t straightforward to obtain.

 

“I once had to spend a morning in a small room with just a cameraman and John McCririck who was wearing nothing but y-fronts.” Will Sentance. Tissue/DNA Boy on The Jeremy Kyle Show. @sentancew

So if it’s hard to get, often gruelling to do and could end up with you in uncomfortable situations, is it really worth it?

 

Why Work Experience?

 

I want to get into the industry because I have found something I am both fascinated by and very good at. No employer will hire you based on your own opinion of how great you are, you need an employer who can help your case.

My work experiences has gone very well, but not in the respect that I have got a job out of them. I personally rate being successful on work experience by learning new things and making new contacts. It also teaches you things you wouldn’t learn in the classroom.

I have learnt that if you have a website, you are more likely to get a response from potential employers. Be persistent, if you’re willing to work for free people are OK with that. Because they’re not losing anything and you’ve got everything to gain.” Amy Eglen – Student and Creator of Day Dreamer Productions .

faceincrowd

Stand out in a crowd.
Picture: Courtesy of Vivid Breeze

Home Truths about work experience

Before you even think about applying for work experience please take into account a few things:

  • Companies are incredibly busy. Some companies may well be getting through free work experience like a box of tissues, but most will view a request as something that isn’t high priority. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get a response.
  • Work experience is not a given – a company doesn’t have an obligation to give you it. Appreciate it can hard work for companies to take on someone new, even for a short time. If you get a position, be proactive and show them how valuable you are.
  • You may well have been to college or University and got a qualification in media, but this definitely isn’t all a production company is looking for – they’re judging you on multiple levels as a person. If you were to come into the office or come out on a shoot – can you hold your own in a situation? Can you keep the energy levels up? Can the crew depend on you?
  • Get noticed – this is a creative industry after all. For us it’s deeds not words. If you have a powerful YouTube Channel or a backlog of films then this not only shows the company that you have a passion for the industry, but also that you can do things off your own bat. There’s nothing worse than getting a CV through from someone who “wants to work in TV” because of the reasons stated at the beginning of this blog.

 

“Be prepared, you’ll have to make endless cups of tea, paint offices, collect dry cleaning, watch endless hours of snooker (maybe that was just me), sit in offices with absolutely nothing to do for hours and hours, every minute feeling like a day. You’ll have to drive talent and crew around early in the morning, late at night, with all passing judgement on how well you drive. You’ll be judged on your choice of snacks you provide on shoots, how much you talk, don’t talk. You’ll have to find obscure items at a minute’s notice, and most importantly you’ll always have to keep smiling. It’s great come and get involved”  Simon Bisset – Director – Biscuit Productions

The Top Ten Tips for work experience in TV

1. Be prepared to live up to high expectations. Most people within the industry have already been through the ranks. Many have worked for free; most have worked hours that aren’t strictly legal and all of them will have experienced a wicked sense of humour.

2. Have a positive attitude. On a set, on a shoot or in an edit – tensions can be high. Negative responses will make your time short. Solutions, not problems, is the best mantra to live by.

3. Have a sense of humour. You need to be able to laugh at yourself. Being wicked is more often than not seen as an invaluable asset.

“We used to send runners to security for a long stand or send them after guests for verbal agreement forms” one former Chat Show Producer. It’s not just the crew – the presenters do it too “one presenter used to make a friend of mine snap her polos in two so she would get through a packet slower”.

4. Be prepared to work for free. A company won’t have budgeted for work experience or even a runner in the quote so don’t expect to file an invoice. In return you get an insight into the industry, contacts for the future and (hopefully) valuable experience.

5. Don’t be taken advantage of. Taking the above quote on board – retain your dignity. Yes you want to get into the industry, but some companies will take unfair advantage of that. Recognise the difference between proving your worth and gruelling free labour with no benefit to you.

6. Become invaluable. It’s not unusual for a person to volunteer for work experience and create a position for themselves.

sleep

Sleep when possible.
Picture: Courtesy of Greenpin

7. Don’t be egotistical. You may well have been top of your class for your Film Noir project, but there’s a hell of a lot of egos on a set and yours will not be appreciated.

8. Remember that it’s only TV. If you do something wrong then tell someone immediately. Little things can snowball – there’s nothing worse than getting into an edit and finding that you need to do a re-shoot. It may not be as bad as you think and will always become worse if you stay silent.

9. Ask a lot of questions. This works on two levels. The first is that you need to get something from the experience (it also shows you have an interest in the industry). The second is that we use a lot of technical terms on set. If you’re asked for a BNC, or some scrim, or to grab the magic arm, no-one’s going to think you’re a muppet if you have to ask what it is.

10. Enjoy yourself. If you come out smiling at the end of it, then you’ve done it right.

There is no doubt that this is an incredible industry to work in, but becoming successful takes persistence and tireless hard work.  What you will learn very quickly is that respect is earned, you can’t demand it.

Featured Image Kind Courtesy of : Piero fix

Comments to "Top Ten Tips for work experience in TV"

  1. Andy Chappel

    February 3, 2014

    Hey Guys,

    Very helpful post, as a newbie, it is good..but scary to get this advice and “real talk” about the industry. I will look to use these tips as I continue on my struggle!

    Keep doing what your doing Curveball.

  2. Sarah

    November 29, 2016

    Good luck Andy! I will use it too but you must remember that the best lesson is practice :)

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